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Welcome to the April 26-29 Convocation

February 1, 2003
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Previewing the American College of Health Care Administrators upcoming conference By Joseph Cerquone, ACHCA Director of Communications
Welcome to the April 26-29 Convocation A letter from the American College of Health Care Administrators

BY JOSEPH CERQUONE, ACHCA DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS Anyone in long-term care who's looking for a break from the "same old, same old" and longs to actively engage creating the future should strongly consider attending "Celebrating Excellence With Southern Charm," the 37th Annual Convocation and Exposition of the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA). The event, which is just a couple of months away (April 26-29, 2003, in Charleston, South Carolina), will offer a rare and stimulating mix of educational sessions by some of the most forward-thinking leaders in the field. For example, tracks will be devoted to the philosophies and approaches of the Eden AlternativeÖ and the Pioneer Network, two prominent forces for change. ACHCA is also making a dedicated effort to attract students to the Convocation. They will be able to benefit from several features, including a student breakfast sponsored by the National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long Term Care Administrators, and special programs on key subjects such as taking the nursing home administrators exam, job searching, and finding mentors and the right administrator-in-training program. The student registration fee for this event is a discounted $50. ACHCA asks nursing home administrators to sponsor students to encourage their attendance at these helpful sessions.

As Mary Tellis-Nayak, ACHCA president and CEO, explains, "Like any field, long-term care needs new ideas, new energy, new blood, if it is going to not only continue, but also advance. Thus, we committed ourselves to framing our upcoming Convocation as a truly exciting educational resource, with the capacity to renew not only the long-term care profession in general, but also each Convocation attendee. I'm particularly excited by what we have planned for students. It's imperative that we use every opportunity to include, attract, and groom them to take over tomorrow, especially now, when so many of our peers are leaving the long-term care profession."

An impressive lineup of speakers will head the Convocation's general sessions. The Saturday, April 26, session will feature one of the world's experts on aging, Thomas Perls, MD, MPH. For the past seven years, Dr. Perls has directed the New England Centenarian Study, the largest genetic and social study of centenarians and their families in the world. Widely published and covered and quoted by media across the globe, Dr. Perls is expected to share his many findings and insights about the scientific, social, and environmental factors that contribute to aging well-information that should be useful and interesting to anyone who cares for the elderly.

On Sunday, April 27, William L. Keane of The Mather Institute on Aging, Mather LifeWays, will talk about culture change in long-term care. A charter Pioneer Network board member and award-winning expert, Keane coordinates Mather's initiatives in comprehensive dementia services for home, community, and residential settings. In that role, he draws upon the considerable experience he's gained from dealing with local, national, and international organizations on dementia care and policy.

Finally, on Monday, April 28, the embodiment of one of the leading forces for change in long-term care-William Thomas, MD, founder/president of the Eden Alternative-will update the general session audience on that initiative. Always thought-provoking and challenging, Dr. Thomas promotes a philosophy that contends that loneliness, helplessness, and boredom account for most of the suffering among elders; promotes elder-centered communities, where residents have close and continuing contact with plants, animals, and children; and, favors putting as much decision-making authority as possible into the hands of the elderly or those closest to them.

When an ACHCA publication interviewed Dr. Thomas at the end of 2001, he expressed great faith in the ACHCA membership as an agent of progress-and, in so doing, articulated why it's especially fitting that they attend the upcoming Convocation in Charleston. "[They] represent the best and brightest in long-term care administration," he said at the time. "Furthermore, it's where the administrators of tomorrow will come from. Indeed, people join ACHCA because they want to develop themselves into leaders in long-term care-they want to go beyond what they know today and they're interested in trying to better themselves. It's the kind of organization from which a generation of progressive leaders can come."

Aside from Dr. Thomas' address, there will be several Eden Alternative offerings among the Convocation's wide array of concurrent educational sessions. They will not be the only ones focusing on "culture change," however. Sessions featuring speakers from the Pioneer Network will be available, too. For example, Rose Marie Fagan, executive director of the Pioneer Network, will lead a session on managing resistance to change. It will examine the causes of resistance; how to overcome barriers put up by staff, residents, and families; and how to account for, understand, and appreciate many points of view, yet forge a unified approach to care.